TEIGNBRIDGE’S council tax support scheme, in which people facing the greatest hardship pay nothing, is to continue next year.

The district council is one of a minority of local authorities to offer eligible residents a full discount on their bill, and until now has been the only one in Devon.

However, more of Devon’s councils are now looking to follow suit, with East Devon, Mid Devon and North Devon also proposing to cut bills by up to 100 per cent according to Teignbridge.

Recommending the extension, a report presented to a meeting of Teignbridge’s executive today, Tuesday, said: ‘With significant numbers of residents now facing a cost-of-living crisis, it is essential that Teignbridge continues to maximise support for its lowest income households.’

The executive group approved the policy, which will now need to be ratified by the full council, and also agreed to adjust the thresholds so that those on the lowest levels of benefits don’t lose out because of any rise in welfare payments.

The report outlined how 5,438 people of working age claimed council tax reduction in October – a drop from a peak of almost 6,000 in April 2021 during the pandemic.

But it warned this downward trend could change if the country, as expected, falls into recession, ‘leading to a likely increase in claimant numbers and a corresponding increase in scheme costs.’

The cost of the scheme – just over £10 million per year – is shared between Teignbridge and the three other major recipients of the council tax: Devon County Council, police and the fire service. Teignbridge contributes just under nine per cent.

It was changed in 2020, introducing an income-based scheme, with overall household income and size used to determine how much discount they are eligible for.

More information about how people can claim the discount is on the council’s website.